Disney is turning to social media types to boost its online global strategy by officially recruiting brand advocates to help spread the Disney message – and media – through social media channels. In an article in New Media Age, Disney is reportedly “prioritizing social media marketing, and within that … using Disney’s ‘Best Guests,'” who are consumers that Disney has “strong social profiles of,” according to Disney’s European marketing director Alan Welsman.
Last year, Disney incorporated content from a brand advocate it discovered on Facebook into promotional material for Toy Story 3. This person conducted interviews with Toy Story’s production team and these interviews were included in Disney’s social media marketing efforts for Toy Story 3. Other Disney films, including Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides are utilizing Brand Advocates, as Disney recognizes these advocates allow “consumers to take part in product development via social media channels.”
It’s not noted whether these official advocates are paid for their participation, but it is a brilliant move on Disney’s part to actively and officially recognize these advocates. Earlier this year Toyota realized the type of backlash that can occur when rogue advocates can unofficially advocate for a major brand without control. In this #ToyotaFail incident, Mommy Blogger Crissy of DearCrissy.com confused an offer from MommyNetworks.org to spread “positive news” in light of some recent product issues as a PR move initated by Toyota. The offer to these bloggers was not actually sanctioned by Toyota, yet bloggers and readers had no indication to believe otherwise. The result created backlash against Toyota on blogs and Twitter that took days for Toyota to clear up.
By officially recruiting brand advocates, consumers of Disney products will have less reason to doubt that social media promotions about Disney are not officially from Disney. Because Disney has a very specific brand image, they are smart to maintain control of this image as they begin to utilize social media to keep up with their consumers. Disney has maintained such a magical reputation for decades; I think we would all hate to see what happens should there ever be a #DisneyFail.